See what I did there? My favourite book is The Sound and the Fury. Fury-ous? Ha! I am hilarious.
I pitched to BJ that our first post should be what our favourite book is. I feel like that is a good introduction into why we read, and what brought us here.
I grew up in a family that were not readers. I mean, my parents read to me as a child, and my parents would read a bedtime story to my sister and me when we were young. But there weren’t books around the house and I don’t recall people sitting and reading for pleasure. Where my love of books came from, remains a mystery to me. My early passion (like most readers back in my day) was Nancy Drew books. My best friend (not known as BFF’s back then) would voraciously read through them, trading them, trying to find ones we hadn’t read yet.
When I got to University and first year English, we read The Sound and the Fury. It changed my life. It was the first book I remember reading that challenged me, that made me feel things, and made me feel accomplished when I finished it.
If you haven’t experienced this book, the novel is about the Compson family, and it’s written in 4 parts. Each part is written from a different family member/perspective. Each family member has increasing or decreasing mental acuity and clarity. That is fairly disorienting and challenging. The first part is written from the perspective of Benjy who is mentally disabled, and his part is written in a non-linear stream of consciousness. But, it grabbed me and I wanted to know what was happening. By the end of the novel, the last part is written in the third person, and focuses on the family’s domestic help and is from ‘her’ perspective. So it’s like you get the full story. And you go OH! NOW I get it.
Why did I like this book? It was the first book that I read that was 100% different from anything I had ever read. The shifting characters and perspective, and Faulkner’s ability to write in their voice and bring you along in the narrative so that you have a clear picture ONLY at the end, in my mind, is genius. It made me appreciate good literature, and realize that there is a whole world of books out there that aren’t Nancy Drew or Sweet Valley High.
I think The Sound and the Fury made me a reader. Made me curious about books and literature. During the time of my English degree, I didn’t read for pleasure – that was kind of knocked out of me by having to read Chaucer, Shakespeare and Jane Austen. So when I had free time, it wasn’t going to be spent reading.
It took me a long time to figure out what type of books I like, and which I don’t. And more importantly, to realize that I don’t have to like books that everyone else does, and I don’t have to finish them if I don’t like them. Reading should be a pleasure, not a punishment.
Meeting BJ has opened my eyes to a whole other genre of reading. When I first went to his apartment and was appraising his bookshelf (as one does!) I remarked: Wow, you have a lot of boring books. (I have since learned to regret that statement.) Where my bookshelf was filled with fiction, his was filled with tomes of non-fiction. Biographies of presidents, of history and the like. I have since (with his guidance) developed a fondness for these books, and realized that a well written non-fiction book can be enjoyed and is a story in itself.
I don’t make a habit of re-reading books, but I have always thought I should re-read The Sound and the Fury. See how it shakes out after all these years. It’s possible that was a book that is special to me because of the time, place and situation and I won’t hold it with as much fondness if I tried it now. Like an old boyfriend you think about, but you know that if you met him now, it would not live up to your memory of him.